Shrines are a major tourist attraction in Asian countries and there are so many that it helps to understand the appeal of any you might want to visit. The Mae Nak Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand stands next Klong Phra Khanong at the large temple of Wat Mahabut just off Sukhumvit Road.
Sitting under large trees whose trunks form part of the roof, the shrine is a low building. Giving the impression of being Mae Nak’s home, a television is permanently on, and there are colourful Thai costumes, flower garlands, toys, milk bottles, and babies nappies strewn around – presented as offerings by visitors to the shrine.
‘Til Death Do Us Part
Apart from the architecture, the fascinating thing about shrines in the Eastern/Asian religions is the back story. The Mae Nak shrine is dedicated to the eponymous beautiful young woman and her love for her husband.
The story is that Mae Nak’s husband was conscripted into the army. While he was away at war, Mae Nak died at home alone during childbirth. Her spirit refused to leave the house and waited for his return. Not realising his wife was now a ghost, they lived together. Upon realising his wife was dead, he fled to the temple. Furious Mae Nak terrorised the village until a Ghost Doctor captured her spirit in a bottle.
And the Winner is!
Mae Nak is believed to be a purveyor of luck for the lottery and on the eve of each draw, ticket sellers, fortune tellers, and purveyors of “Luck-giving” goods crowd around the shrine with lottery players. She is also a draw for men who have to face military conscription.
Getting to the Shrine
Take the BTS to the On Nut BTS Skytrain Station. It’s then a walk down Sukhumvit Soi 77 of about 900 metres. It’s a fascinating visit – a must if you believe in ghosts or just want to see the embodiment of an enduring love story. At the same time, you can also visit the other buildings and grounds of the temple.
By Ananda – self photo, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1494118